Wall Street shrugs off North Korea worries, forges higher

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NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street set aside morning jitters over North Korea's missile launch and rose to a positive finish on Tuesday (Aug 29), reversing losses from earlier in the day.

But oil stocks continued to take a battering as Hurricane Harvey left more than 20 per cent of US production in the Gulf of Mexico off line.

At the close, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.3 per cent higher at 21,865.37.

The broader S&P 500, which comprises many US companies based in Houston, Texas, moved barely into positive territory to end at 2,446.30, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.3 per cent to 6,301.89.

Although investors were shaken overnight after North Korea launched a missile that passed over Japan, "The market was relieved in large part to find out that our response was measured, as opposed to two weeks ago," said Art Hogan of Wunderlich Securities.

President Donald Trump had earlier promised "fire and fury" if the North persisted in provocations with is nuclear weapons programme, but on Tuesday made no explicit mention of retaliation, saying only that "all options" were on the table.

Hogan said, "The market took some solace in the fact that we are still trying to find ways to deal with North Korea that are not military."

Gold, a safe-haven asset, gave up some early gains but rose 0.3 per cent from Monday's close to US$1,314 per troy ounce.

But with the hurricane disruption to oil production and refining in the Gulf region, shares in ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell were flat while ConocoPhillips fell 0.4 per cent and BP gave up 0.3 per cent.

Electronics retailer Best Buy nosedived 11.9 per cent after warning investors not to expect a repeat of strong quarterly sales results.

But United Technologies added 2.9 per cent after The Wall Street Journal reported the company was close to finalising a deal to acquire aircraft equipment maker Rockwell Collins, which also added 2.2 per cent.

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